‘Protect our children’

| 20 May 2021 | 11:16

    Tennessee Gas Pipeline’s 5/13/21 Informational Session did not lessen my concerns regarding their proposed fracked gas compressor station to be built in West Milford.

    The TGP employee moderating the session admitted that despite the proposed compressor station being electric powered, it will still release emissions during planned and unplanned blowdowns as well as from fugitive emissions.

    He used the word “infrequent” when asked how many blowdowns might be anticipated. But even in a best-case scenario, in which blowdowns did occur “infrequently”, this does not quell my fears regarding the safety of my two-year-old child.

    There is an abundance of scientific literature demonstrating that chemicals released during blowdowns such as benzene are so toxic that there are no safe levels of exposure and every exposure, even “infrequent,” will increase risk of childhood leukemia.

    Despite what TGP would lead you to believe, the hazardous emissions from blowdowns and fugitive emissions are substantial. Per the EPA reports, compressor stations in NY have emitted over 36 million pounds of over 70 different chemicals, 39 of which are known to cause cancer, over a six-year period. Compressor stations have been proven to exceed federal standards for air pollution from formaldehyde, hydrogen sulfide, benzene and other volatiles as much as 10,000 fold. Infants and children are most likely to be harmed due to their greater biologic vulnerability and their long future lifetime in which disease can manifest in both childhood and adulthood.

    The particulate matter, VOCs, and hazardous air pollutants including nitrogen oxides, carbon monoxide, and formaldehyde emitted increase risk of a number of human diseases including cancer, cardiovascular disease, asthma, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, central nervous system dysfunction, birth defects, poor birth outcomes as well as premature death. Studies also show air pollution may be contributing to the rise in neurodevelopmental disorders including autism and neurodegenerative disorders such as Parkinson’s, ALS, and Alzheimer’s. A recent study looking specifically at mortality of those who live near compressor stations found that the VOCs emitted were associated with significantly higher death rates.

    The moderator confirmed that fracked gas does contain radioactive compounds, though he was not knowledgeable enough to speak to this more, we will await a more in depth answer from a subject matter expert. However, it is not hard to review the literature yourself, and what you will find is far from reassuring. People who live near compressor stations are at risk of being exposed to toxic radioactive elements including radon, polonium and lead. Particle radioactivity of particle bound lead-210 and polonium-210 have been found to induce cancer and short-term exposures have been associated with decreased lung function.

    When asked about these hazardous chemical emissions the moderator kept referring back to the company being compliant with regulators such as FERC. Unfortunately for the public, this is meaningless as fossil fuel companies fund FERC creating a fundamental conflict of interest. FERC has become a rubber-stamping entity that fails to protect the public from the serious health hazards of the multibillion-dollar fracked gas industry. The moderator also spoke about how TGP values safety, but these sentiments do not change the company’s track record in which there were 111 significant incidents associated with their pipelines from 2006-2017 resulting in over 8 million dollars of property damage and 19 federal enforcement actions. Living near a compressor station poses serious health and safety risks that are not acceptable for our communities, families and children.

    I grow tired of West Milford’s Council and Mayor’s inaction. It is misleading of them to act as if they have no power to help stop this project. They can and they must pass a resolution, as six other towns have already done, stating West Milford opposes TGP’s East 300 Upgrade. Anything less is a massive failure in their role in protecting the health and safety of their residents.

    Ultimately it is Governor Murphy who can reject the permits and stop this project. We must urge him to do so by continuing to have townships pass resolutions as well as individually voicing our opposition. To learn more about how you can help stop this fracked gas compressor station please visit https://www.stopthecompressor.org/home

    Rachel Sellen MS, RD, LDN, CSP, RYT

    West Milford